Kent-based science fiction and fantasy gaming supplier Brigade Models is producing some 1/1200 models inspired by the Denge sound mirrors.
They are designed for Aeronef, a form of wargaming based on “an alternate history in the late 19th Century when the aircraft has been invented several decades earlier than the Wright Brothers actually managed. The nations and empires of the world battle for supremacy of the skies in giant aerial ships known as Aeronefs, lighter-than-air dirigibles (‘Digs’) and small fighter and bomber aircraft.”
Tony Francis of Brigade Models tells me that while the models are based on the Denge sound mirrors they are are not exact replicas; he worked from photos and satellite images to produce something that looked roughly right. “Although they are really First World War technology rather than late 19th century, we’ve appropriated them as being ideal for our Victorian science-fiction alternate history games”, he explains.
The 200 ft mirror comes out at about 50 mm long, while the two small ‘ears’ are about 10 mm. They are produced in pewter from masters which were created using a 3D modelling package and 3D printing.
For more details of availability and how to order, see the Brigade Models website.
The Denge sound mirrors have proved to be a popular location for music videos and associated photo shoots, and are included in a new book called Rock Atlas, by David Roberts.
The author has got in touch to tell me that:
The 304-page, full-colour guide book includes 689 fascinating British and Irish music locations and the stories behind them. Written and researched by former Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums editor David Roberts, the book provides instructions on how to find each place of Rock and Pop pilgrimage, plus extensive lists of the birthplaces of every major musician.
The sound mirrors entry says:
The Dungeness coastal landscape is shaped by the strange architectural splendour of the sound mirrors that are featured as cover artwork on Turin Brakes’ Ether Song album and hit single ‘Long Distance’. Constructed as a Royal Air Force early warning system for incoming aircraft, the Denge mirrors are often referred to as ‘Listening Ears’ and have also featured in The Prodigy video for ‘Invaders Must Die’ and Blank & Jones‘ Monument album cover and video for ‘A Forest’.
LOCATION 147: between Lydd-on-Sea and Greatstone-on-Sea. Postcode: TN29 9NL. Access with guided walks. www.andrewgrantham.co.uk/soundmirrors
Some pictures at the Derelict Places website showing the Fullwell WW1 Sound Mirror near Sunderland. “Today the mirror has been long forgotten, situated at the end of some allotments and nature has taken over”.
German cyclist Roland Schmellenkamp has been to see the Kilnsea sound mirror in East Yorkshire as part of a trip from Glasgow to Offenburg. He comments that Britons “often have surprisingly good knowledge of history”.
This year’s final RMCP guided walk to the Denge mirrors is on Sunday 11 September 2011 at 14:00.
“Vergessene Technologien – Riesenohren aus Beton” (Forgotten technologies – Giant ears of concrete) is a 23 May 2011 German-language article by Solveig Grothe on the website of Spiegel. It has a history of sound mirror development between the wars, and features some photos of sound mirrors from the Sound Mirrors Flickr group (used with the permission of the photographers).
With reinforced concrete shells the size of a house, the British listened in the 20s and 30s for enemy aircraft. The acoustic experiments along the coast gave the island extraordinary architectural monuments – and an interception technique to which was used to the outbreak of World War II.
Und jetzt, die artikel auf Englisch: Listening for the Enemy, Giant Ears on the British Coast
Planned dates for public access to the Denge sound mirrors in 2011 have been announced on the Notice Board section of the Romney Marsh Countryside Project website.
There is one open day this year, and two guided walks. These events don’t need to be booked and are free, but rely on donations to cover the costs with at least £2 per person suggested.
- Open day 10:00-17:00 Sunday 24 July 2011
- Guided walk 14:00 Sunday 21 August 2011
- Guided walk 14:00 Sunday 11 September 2011
More information at the RMCP website. Anyone planning to attend these events should obviously confirm details with the RMCP before travelling.
Remember, the RMCP events are the only way to visit the Denge mirrors. The walks are very popular, and well worth doing.
… visual detection was often hampered by the island nation’s overcast skies, and the technological means of spotting aircraft were primitive at best. One scheme involved a massive concrete “sound mirror” that picked up the noise of an approaching engine—unfortunately, though, the device wouldn’t have been able to distinguish between the invading Luftwaffe and a passing British lorry. A technological breakthrough was needed….
Source: Review of “The Tizard Mission” by Stephen Phelps at the Wall Street Journal, 2011-03-12
Amusingly, alongside the review is a link to an article Opinion: Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl by a William Tucker. Obviously this isn’t the William S Tucker who was involved in the development of sound ranging!
Sound effects is a 20 August 2010 posting about the Kilnsea sound mirror at Mike Higginbottom’s Interesting Times website.
Among the First World War fortifications that protected eastern England from the German threat is a curious lump of concrete in a field north-west of the Godwin Battery on the coast at Kilnsea on the way to Spurn Point. This enigmatic piece of concrete is an acoustic mirror …